The digital state of real estate.

As a business person, I come from a background of hardcore, “deep in the machine room” IT. Digital Strategy and digital business runs deep in my veins. Ten years ago I founded one of the first companies to build a real cloud service for desktop computing. That said, I have always had a thing for real estate investing and the real estate industry.

After exiting my company one year ago I joined a mid-size real estate group. At that point, that group had a project development company and a co-living business. The business group had near to zero digital processes implemented, and hardly any process design.

In the beginning, I thought “wtf”. There was a huge gap between what I have experienced in the digital industry and the general state of the real estate industry. From a processes point-of-view, the real-estate sector could be considered a classical industry sector.

At the beginning of this year, we decided to set up an estate agent business to complete the in-house value chain. Doing things differently was one of the major ideas. So, looking at the state of the industry we have been seeing a well-known pattern: The US is digitally leading the way and all others slowly follow the path.

In Europe, digitization has been synonymous with online platforms and e-commerce. The current state-of-the-art digitization in real estate is front-end portals for offering properties to buyers. Integrated backend CRM systems can be added to support the sales-heavy structures. These digitization tools are lead by platform vendors like “ImmoScout“. On the edge of innovation, we can find Virtual and Augmented Reality technologies. These offer virtual tours, automated layout generation, and the option for virtual home staging.

When we look to the US market we can see a different picture. Under the heavy influence of Silicon Valley Tech Startups companies like Compass real estate emerged. Compass is a realtor franchise with a heavy emphasis on technology perks. Joining the Compass family gives you a whole set of digital tools, processes, and backend support to help you grow your business. The partnering contract allows realtors to share their properties across the whole franchise. This instantly multiplies sales opportunities across the whole US market.

I think we will see a lot more companies combining the Tech-Startup genes for innovation and processes with classical real estate services. Technology has the potential to streamline every step in the real estate industry. Estate Agents and project developers who are able to transfer and translate Start-Up processes, culture, and digital tools will outrun the market. Even the centuries-old companies in the market.

This post is the start of a mini-series looking into the different areas of real estate related technologies. Focussing on two major groups in real estate – estate agents and real estate investors. What are the technologies that give these two groups an edge against their peers?

If you have read this far I suppose you are very likely interested in this topic. What are your challenges? What is your experience with digital tech in real estate? What tools are you already using and what are you looking forward to?

I would be glad to hear from you. Let’s make this a community journey!